Companion Dog

I have a tenant who has a letter from the VA for a companion dog the problem being his companion dog is a Doberman. it states in his lease that no agressive breeds are allowed including Dobermans. Am I required by the American with Disabilites Act to aloow him to bring this dog into the park. i am ok with him having a companion dog but not a Doberman. anyones input would be appreciated.

Thank you

Our rules are much the same as yours- but we are very clear that anyone with a ‘guide’ dog gets a pass.

We are clear the dog get the pass on size and type- but the rules still apply. If the dog is ever once aggressive, we have a one strike and you’re out rule. In these cases all dog that land in this ‘exception’ zone, which include all dogs that were present when we bought the property, must be insured by the tenant.

As a side note- I have one tenant that has a doctor that says her 5 animals are ‘prescribed’ for her mental health. They are all small, but because it is over our allowable number of pets she has the doctors saying she needs them.

The bottom line is here is more about what is right than what you can do from a legal sense. If this was your family living in the community, and it was your young son or daughter with the need- how would you want to be treated? The answer you would have for yourself (and your daughter) is probably a good guide for how you should be treating your tenants. Some will say ‘its the law and tell then they need to comply’. To you I say, give that line to the next police officer that pulls you over for speeding 3 miles per hour over the limit- as he tells you the posted speed limit is 65 and you were doing 68. He will take his radar gun to court, and you will get a ticket for going 1-10 over the speed limit- and the fine will be double in a school or construction zone… and he will win. The letter of the law says so… in general we do not get these tickets- we are granted grace- and we have come to expect it!

I would write a special rule, that allows the pet and covers you on the backside.

Just my 2 cents- keep the change…

Go to the article section of this site (on the left sidebar) and read the article we just posted on this issue on this exact question. This is something we have been researching recently and this is the policy we are following. Thank you to our insurance agent (Kurt Kelley) for this article!

http://www.mobilehomeuniversity.com/articles/is-that-dog-heading-to-our-mobile-home-park.php

Dave Reynolds

If it was my park I would want to know exactly what the definition of “companion” is. If it is a seeing eye dog then it is understandable that a larger dog is best suited to that purpose. If it is simply a dog intended to be a warm body to keep the individual company I would tell the VA to provide a dog that meets the park rules period.

Thank you all for your input. The dog is for mental issues and i told the tenenat he is welcome to have a companion dog just not an aggressive breed as stated in the lease. He got back to me and said after thinking about my concerns for the park he is going to get a dachshund so a happy ending after all.

You are right in that service animals and emotional support animals need to be right sized for the job. However, you need to be careful not to discriminate between handicaps. Under the ADA and Fair Housing Standards Act, a tenant with no readily visible handicap can’t be treated differently in their accommodation from someone in a wheelchair. Also, the law is clear in that landlords do not have to allow any animal that is a known danger to others in the park. Many states have laws that for purposes of assigning liability in the event of a dog bite, make the park owner/apartment owner wholly responsible for the offending dog.

Also, you can require anyone seeking to bring in an animal into the park under the ADA or Fair Housing Standards Act that doesn’t generally meet the park guidelines to confirm certain issues in writing. This form letter is on our website, but I’ll paste it here for your convenience. Requiring the tenant to complete this proactive step and make the included affirmations is a good way to prevent the inflow of animals that aren’t truly service animals.

Tenant’s Name

Tenant’s Address

Date

Dear Property Manager,

I am sending you this notice to advise you that I have a Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal in my care, custody and control. This animal meets the definition of a “Service Animal” pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or is an “Emotional Support Animal” as defined by the Fair Housing Standards Act. My disability limits my ability to ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.

I further advise you that my Service Dog is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. The Service Dog has been trained to provide assistance directly related to my disability. My Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal helps me to __________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________.

This Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal will be under my control at all times. The Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal will be harnessed, leashed, or tethered when outside my home, unless these devices interfere with the Service Dog’s or Emotional Support Animal’s work or my disability prevents using these devices. And when it is not physically harnessed, the Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal will be controlled through voice, signal or other effective controls.

Attached is the verification from my health care provider explaining how my Emotional Support Animal will assist me with my disability.

I agree and acknowledge as part of my tenancy contract/lease, that if my Service Dog or Emotional Support Animals is out of control and I, or its handler, do not take immediate effective action to control it, I will remove the Service Dog or Emotional Support Animal from the premises.

Sincerely,

Tenant Signature /

Tenant Printed Name

According to the online article, "Is That Dog Heading To Our Mobile Home Park

by Kurt Kelley" you CAN NOT “ask for medical documentation” if someone tells you a dog is a service animal. So that seems that anyone can just tell you the animal is a service animal and thus avoid paying associated move in or added monthly costs. How can this be effectively mitigated?

I’m sure the they have a corresponding rules to this kind of problem if it would be cleared.

Spokane Tim Jones

Glad everything worked out well. That’s terrific.

However, be careful not to have a blanket exclusion against all dogs of a certain breed that are also “service animals” or “emotional support animals.” For example, if you exclude a blind man’s German Shepherd, you are susceptible to costly defense costs associated with discrimination claims. Furthermore, most community owners don’t have insurance for discrimination claims (they generally do have insurance for dog bite claims).

By making your prospective service animal / emotional support animal tenants sign our proposed affirmation letter and add the noted supporting documentation, you’ll likely minimize any requests to keep animals that aren’t truly service animals or emotional support animals. But yes, it’s still possible for a tenant to get a dog into the park that wouldn’t otherwise be allowed by claiming an ADA or Fair Housing Standards exemption. However, once that dog proves to be aggressive toward other humans, you can legally evict the animal.

The companion dog issue is becoming a problem. In Maine it doesn’t require a doctor’s signature, any health care person can sign a “It would make this person feel better” form. We have an 18lb limit on dogs. Prospective tenants call and say “Well, I will just a permit for a companion dog”.

We used to allow large dogs in the park. Everybody wants a large dog. 30 large dogs each doing 1 lb of dog crap a day is 11,000 lbs of dog crap annually. It became a health hazard. Poo all over peoples lawns. Kids getting into it. Neighbors complaining. Legislators don’t think about this.

We tell people the dog still has to be kept indoors which is not nice for a large dog. No outside pens, runs or dog houses. They also have to have liabilty insurance. Last week a tenant illegally brought a large abandoned dog to his trailer cause “he felt bad for it”. The dog jumped up on a women holding her little dog scraching her arms and drawing blood. Had it been a small child, the scratches would have been at eye level and the child could have lost an eye. Child looses an eye and you may lose the park. There is a cadre of lawyers that specialize in dog injuries. They advertize on TV here.

Service dogs are a different matter. There was one in the park trained to get the lady up when she fell. But many people abuse the companion dog laws.